Friday, March 25, 2011

Democracy: Familiarity Breeds Contempt?

I have some sympathy for politically aware people who say that none of the candidates or parties in this election does anything for them. I used to feel that way at times. When Bob Rae betrayed social-democratic values as premier of Ontario, I stayed that election out. I didn't know that mike harris would be as bad as he was, but I don't think that even then I would have said "Bob, no matter how much you trashed our values and strengthened the hegemony of neo-liberal bullshit, I have no other place to put my vote, so here you go."

I am in total concurrence with any US-American progressive who doesn't vote. There's a two-party stranglehold on the electoral sham down there and there often aren't even alternative candidates who one can vote for just to make a statement. On the other hand, were I a US-American, I'd be doing what I'm doing up here, which is to question the left-opposition as to just how is anything supposed to change, and trying to join or start a mass-movement dedicated to achieving genuine change. ("Workers as Citizens." link, link, link, link, link)

But people who contemptuously dismiss present democratic options while being completely unaware of current events and completely ignorant of how their political system functions, don't get much sympathy from me. In their case, their contempt is a corporate-created mindset, based on propaganda that feeds into their lazy self-righteous sense of consumer entitlement. This is a deliberate campaign, probably the underlying philosophy of the entire public relations movement, funded, as it is, by the capitalist class. Every time someone who doesn't understand the importance of legislative oversight of the executive branch pats themselves on the back for being "above politics" and snidely insults all politicians as criminal sociopaths, and then stays home and doesn't vote, they're doing exactly what our corporate masters want.

Because politics isn't going anywhere. The law-making process that governs us, and decides how much we pay for our internet, or the fees that financial institutions are allowed to charge us, or whether the medicines we buy are dangerous or not, or whether eco-systems get devastated for profit or not, or whether our tax dollars go to help rapist warlords buy expensive property in Dubai or not, or whether our tax dollars buy the bullets that rip into the throat of a 13-year old Pashtun boy fighting the government that killed his father and raped his sister, ... it's all going to continue.

And there are powerful interests who want you to ignore the whole thing and leave the field to them. You can go on watching "Girls Gone Wild" until your electricity is cut-off because the wealthy wanted a recession to fight inflation, and your public-sector job was cut to fight the deficit. By that point though, you'll be too busy scrounging up a couch to sleep on and a burger-flipping part-time job to compensate your friend to be able to figure out how it all works and what can be done about it.

This election is not about harper versus Ignatieff, but about democracy itself. We have had a prime minister whose assaults on the very fundamentals of representative democracy are legion. If this sort of government is to become the new normal, then we're all well and truly fucked. harper has dragged democracy to its lowest point in at least half a century. He is a symbol and he has to be stopped.

And stopping him has to be seen as a starting point only. In life there is always an opportunity to start over. In politics, until a system has been ground down into the dust, the people who are affected by it can always start again. When harper goes down, Ignatieff, Layton, Duceppe, etc., must be put on notice in no uncertain terms that harper's methods were illegitimate and they will not be tolerated again.

And then we on the left, who have opposed the failed mission in Afghanistan from the beginning, who have opposed destructive "free trade" deals from the beginning, who have opposed the assaults on public health care consistently, who have tried to speak out about the dangers of global warming, who have opposed the policies that have increased economic inequality and rising levels of household debt, who have opposed the racist criminalization of Muslim Canadians and residents, who have opposed the ruinous deregulation of industry ... including the financial industry, ... we who have been on the winning side of every argument, must stop with the tactics that have turned our intellectual victories into real-world failures, and confront reality and make sure that a politician such as harper can never come to national prominence again.


Alison said...

We're pretty comfortably numb about politics in Canada generally, and not much inclined to consider social justice issues beyond the election follies.
In order to become more aware, we'll first have to give up the smug delusion that we're the good guys, and that's the big stumbling block to progress right there.

thwap said...

How to convince people that they're not the good guys without offending them 'eh?

Of course, we've seen that in the "War on Terra" ... there are plenty of partisan hacks to lign up and argue that we SHOULDN'T be good guys.

that that's all pinko-hippie-homo-stuff.

At the same time, so many people's better parts were manipulated to back the assault in Libya.

Hmmmm ...